Enclosure Award.

Every parish has An Award which sets out the details of Enclosure by Act of Parliament. The Ordsall Award is a large book nearly two feet square, bound in leather, containing 24 parchment pages. It is now kept in the Town Clerk's Office, where it was deposited when the parish was incorporated in the Borough of East Retford in 1878.

The Enclosure of a Parish destroyed the interesting old system of agriculture known in England as the Open Field System. This survived from Saxon days until the middle of last century. It can still be seen at Laxton, where the rotation of Winter Corn, Spring Crop, and Fallow takes place in three very large fields. There is also a large Common which was used for pasture. We get some idea from this village of what all parishes were like in former days. We have become so used to small fields, hedges, ditches, and gates that it is difficult now to imagine what the countryside was like when it was cultivated under the old system. The villagers had strips of land in various parts of the open fields, and also certain rights of grazing on the Common. This system was not always economical, and not easy to work amicably, although it continued so long. At the beginning of the last century many parishes had changed from the old to the new method of enclosing every field and the Commons.

A Petition for Enclosing Ordsall was presented to the House of Commons on 6th March, 1800 by Hon. J. Simpson, A. H. Eyre, G. Mason, T. L. Dickenson and others. It set forth that there were several Open Fields called Far Field, Middle Field, and Near Field, containing 200 acres, one Open Meadow West of the Idle of 25 acres, two Commons called Whinney Moor and Thrumpton Green, of 25 acres, and another Common West of the Idle of 160 acres. The Open Fields were not very large, and there must have been many smaller enclosures before this time. The Bill finally received the Royal Assent on 30th June, 1800. The Fields Meadows, Commons, and Waste Land were said to be incapable of any considerable improvement at that time under the old system.

John Dowland of Cuckney was appointed Commissioner to make the Award, and William Chrishop of Cuckney was appointed Surveyor. Both attended the first meeting at the house of Ann Marr at the White Hart and took the oath, that they would faithfully and honestly perform their trust, on 20th September, 1800. The Parish is divided into two parts by the River Idle. The East part belonged to the Manor of Dunham, formerly a Royal Manor, but then in the possession of Samuel Crawley, whose wife, Elizabeth Rankin, inherited it from the former Lord of the Manor. He died before the Award was completed. The West part belonged to the Manor of Elkesley, which was held by the King in right of his Duchy of Lancaster. The Manor of Elkesley had been leased for a term of years to the Duke of Newcastle at that time. The Lords of the Manors were entitled to the right of soil in the Commons and Waste Grounds. The Act also records that the Rev. Joseph Scott was Rector and owner of certain glebe lands. He also died just before the Award was completed. The Commons and Waste Grounds were to be divided among the various owners in proportion to their estates.

The Brecks were enclosures which had already been made out of Forest Lane. The word "forest" did not mean a large group of woods and plantations, but was used to describe open heath land not under cultivation. We still call that part of the Parish towards Morton, the Forest, although it is all farm land now.

At the end of the Award there is a map showing the various roads and houses and large fields as they were a century ago. Evidently the Award took a long time to settle, and it was finally presented to the King on March 2nd, 1813. A copy was enrolled with the Clerk of the Peace for the County on May 13th, 1814. The Award is signed by James Dowland in the presence of:

J. Wilson of Worksop, Attorney at Law.
J. Whitaker of Morton.
Charles Boyle, Junr., Clerk to Mr. Wilson.
George  Unwin, Clerk to Mr. Dowland.

The Award was an expensive affair for the parish as the Commissioner and Surveyor each received salaries for their work, and hedges, ditches, roads and drains had to be made. In the case of East Drayton, there were 20 meetings held at local Inns extending over 5 years, and the total cost over £3,000. This was assessed upon 23 owners of land in the parish, nearly £2,000 being paid by the Lord of the Manor. The accounts for the Ordsall Award and most of the others are now lost.

The Award was completed in 1813, and many of the roads and lanes are given under their old names, which have now been changed or forgotten, and sometimes their original direction has been changed.

In that part of the parish situated on the West of the Idle in the MANOR OF ELKESLEY we find:

Eaton Road. Forty feet wide from Ordsall Town Street, over Ordsall Common to an ancient gate in the parish of Eaton.

Breck Road. Private Carriage Road, 20 feet wide, beginning near Clay Pit Pool over Ordsall Common Westwards.

Marsh Road. Private Carriage and Bridle Road, 20 feet wide, branching from Eaton Road over Ordsall Common and leading to an ancient lane called Marsh Lane.

Ollerton Road from Retford is shown on the map of the Award, but before the railway came, this road took a sharp turn to the right, towards the present Babworth Goods Station, and then direct to the canal bridge by Myrtle Street. It was diverted to Babworth crossing in 1848, when the Railway was built.

All Hallows' Street, Church Lane, and Hill Street are also shown. Biggin's Lane is also marked as a forty-foot road, but from Biggin's Cottages it went directly across two large fields to Babworth Bridge. Its old course may still be seen from that Bridge going up the hill among some rhododendrons towards Ordsall.

Ordsall Hall (formerly The Biggins) is shown and Biggin's Cottages, which were then one house a barn and yard. West Hill Farm was not then built, the fields all belonged to George Donston.

The Bridge over the Idle went straight through the Mill, with buildings on each side and came out into High Street towards the School. The old foundations can still be seen, and it will be found the old track leads straight into Goose Moor Lane, and the sharp corner was necessary when the new bridge was made slightly Northward.

Manor of Dunham.

Goose Moor Lane was a 40 feet Carriage Road.

The Great North Road was 60 feet wide, and had been made some years before. Formerly the part leading from the South was called Whitehouse Lane, and from Bracken Lane corner towards Retford it was called Farmer Lane.

Brick Kiln Road. This is now corrupted into Bracken Lane, and is fully described thus: "One other Public Carriage, Bridle and Drift Road, in the  same  Manor  and  Soke,  beginning at  the Great  North Road  and   thence in an Eastwardly direction [ . . . ] Whinney Moor Kiln Lane and from the East end of the same Lane at or near the North-West corner of an enclosure belonging to Henry Jepson, called Chicken Close, in a Northwardly direction along the West ends of Hangingbank Field and Far Field, otherwise called Black Moor Field, to the South end of an ancient lane at or near to the South-West corner of a close belonging to Thomas Lacy Dickenson, Esquire called Black Moor Close, which road is set out the breadth of 40 feet between the ditches and fences and called "Brick Kiln Road." It went to Little Gringley.

Dunham Gate Road. This was the name of Dog Kennel Lane of Grove Road, and led from Whitehouse Lane over Rushy Piece to a narrow lane at the top of the hill called Grove Gap.

Oak Lane. This was the narrow lane (called Whinney Moor Lane) leading from the Great North Road to Thrumpton. After a short distance it continued as Thrumpton Green Road and then continued towards Retford as Thrumpton Lane. The short lane leading now towards the Tenter Fields from Thrumpton Green, was known as Water Lane  (probably with good  reason).

Scratta Road. This was the Public Carriage Road, 20 feet wide, and now known as Grove Coach Road. Before the Award was made it seems to have begun as Willow Meadow Lane, and then became Scratta Lane leading to an enclosure called Scratta on the top of Grove Hill, now in the Park.

It is interesting to note also that out of the Common, The King as Lord of the Manor of Elkesley, which he held by right as the Duke of Lancaster, received three allotments, namely one large field of 16 acres on the boundary of Eaton Parish on the right hand side of Eaton Road, also a piece of land known as the Clay Pit which was chiefly a large pool of water and which had been used from time immemorial as a public watering place. This was to continue in the same manner for the benefit of the people, and can still be seen at the corner opposite Brecks Road. The third portion alloted to the King's Majesty was a small plot of ground of half an acre opposite the watering place, at the corner of Brecks Road and Eaton Road. The Lord of the Manor was entitled to one eighteenth of the Common, when it was enclosed, and these allotments amounted to that. In addition a very small plot was awarded to the King instead of a chief rent or Common fine of 1/6 formerly payable to him every year. These were leased to the Duke of Newcastle and eventually sold to the owners of Eaton Estate. Eliza Crawley, as Lady of the Manor of Dunham, received Thrumpton Green and two plots on Scratta Road which she sold afterwards to [ . . . ]